What is Roller Derby?

SAJRD plays Canadian flat track roller derby according to the latest rules and regulations from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). A complete list of official rules may be downloaded from the WFTDA web site.


The objectives of roller derby are simple – with each team fielding one (point scoring) skater – a Jammer – whose objective is to lap as many opposing skaters (Blockers) as they can.

The non-scoring skaters (4 Blockers per team) work both defensively and offensively to prevent the opposing Jammer from passing them and to clear a path for their own Jammer.

Roller derby requires tremendous teamwork, communication and strategy.

Basic Gameplay

  • Each team fields five players at a time (4 Blockers and 1 point-scoring Jammer).
  • The Jammer wears a STAR on their helmet, while the Blocker wearing a STRIPE on their helmet acts as the Pivot. The acting Pivot is commonly the pack leader and defensive play caller, similar to football’s middle linebacker position.
  • The 4 Blockers from each team line up together to form a Pack between designated “Pivot and Jammer Lines” marked on the track, while the 2 Jammers line up behind the Jammer Line.
  • Play begins at the whistle – with each two-minute play called a JAM. Games are typically an hour long, with two 30-minute halves consisting of an unlimited number of jams. Teams may freely substitute players between jams (except for those players serving penalties).
  • The Jammers do not earn points on the first lap, but the first jammer to legally pass each blocker on the opposing team and clear the pack is called LEAD JAMMER (You can tell if a skater is the Lead Jammer by looking at their designated Jammer Ref – who will point to the Jammer while holding their other hand up in the shape of an L. The Lead Jammer reserves the right to strategically end the jam before the two minutes are completed by repeatedly gesturing with both hands on their hips. If both Jammers commit fouls on their first lap, there is no Lead Jammer and the jam will run for the full 2 minutes. Jammers may lose Lead Jammer status if they are sent to the penalty box during the jam.
  • After a Jammer completes their initial lap, 1 point is scored for each opposing skater they pass (with Jammers automatically scoring points against opposing skaters serving in the penalty box).


  • A penalty consists of 30 seconds of jam time, served immediately so long as a seat is available in the box.
  • Referees gesture skaters to the box with a swooping motion of one finger to direct the skater off the track. Note that the ref squad internally divides areas of responsibility, with different referees responsible for monitoring the front of the pack, the rear of the pack, scoring for each team, etc.
  • A Jammer in the box is released immediately if the other Jammer also lands in the box.

The following are examples of common roller derby infractions:

  • Blocking with forearms, hands or elbows
  • Tripping, kicking, or blocking with feet or legs
  • Blocking while 20 feet ahead of or behind the pack (“out of play”)
  • Intentionally destroying the pack, such as by taking a knee or leaving the track in a way which renders the remaining players ineligible to block
  • Blocking a skater in her back or head
  • Blocking while out of bounds, or blocking a skater who is out of bounds
  • Skating out of bounds to get around other skaters (“cutting the track”)
  • Illegal procedures: false starts, too many skaters on the track

Game Play and Skills Assessment

There are four levels of practice and play within JRDA, each with a separate set of required skills and a separate skills assessment.

Learn To Skate (Ages 6-17)

Beginning skaters are learning to skate and practice basic safety, skating, stopping, and falling. They do not play derby, but rather focus on learning basic skating skills and the very basics of derby.

Skill Level I – Cowabunga or Rabid Racoons (Ages 6-10)

Level I skaters are becoming masters of their skates, are learning basic game play and teamwork, and are beginning to scrimmage and bout positionally. They are beginning to learn more advanced rules and strategies.

Skill Level II – Udder Annihilation or Rabid Racoons (Ages 9-16)

Level II skaters are playing using pushing contact only in scrimmages and bouts. They are also learning advanced teamwork, rules and regulations, and strategic play. Practices emphasize fluidity of motion and building skeletal muscular strength and endurance.  Our League requires skaters to be age 9 or above and be able to meet JRDA Level II benchmarking requirements.

Skill Level III – LegenDairy Rollers (Ages 12-17)

Skaters who pass the JRDA Level III benchmarking requirements, demonstrate adult-level competency on skates and with the rules of roller derby. Level III skaters practice, scrimmage and bout using full-contact rules. In addition, Level III skaters are expected to help teach lower-level skaters and to be ambassadors for the league.

Each skills assessment consists of two parts: a physical demonstration of skating ability, and a written rules test. Skaters must be assessed prior to their first interleague competition, and re-assessments must be done at least annually thereafter. As a Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) sanctioned league, SAJRD must maintain signed records of successful testing of their rostered skaters and be able to provide these records to the JRDA upon request.

The appropriate rules test will be administered to each skater individually. Skaters will not have access to notes or any rules document rules documents during the exam. The minimum required score to pass each rules test is 80%.

For more information, please visit www.juniorrollerderby.org